19.6.18

Does increasing the tipped minimum wage actually help workers? 7 experts weigh in.

 

Washington, DC, voters are considering the question at the polls on Tuesday.

The impact of increasing the minimum wage has been the subject of long-held debates among economists. Although higher wages should theoretically benefit workers, researchers have also found that a spike in labor costs could lead to companies curbing the number of employees on their payroll — ultimately harming workers who end up out of a job.

For voters in Washington, DC, this question is no longer abstract. They are considering a more complicated version of this policy as they head to the polls on Tuesday. The question on the DC ballot asks whether workers who depend on tips, like restaurant servers, should see a boost in their base salary, so that their hourly pay eventually matches the city’s minimum wage.

As things currently stand, DC’s minimum wage is $12.50 per hour, a figure that’s set to rise to $15 by 2020. For tipped workers, however, the hourly base wage is only $3.33, and that’s set to increase to $5 by 2020. By law, restaurant workers are still supposed to pay tipped workers the minimum wage, but they do so via a “tip credit,” which means employers only have to make up that amount if they don’t get enough tips to make the minimum wage.

If this ballot measure, dubbed Initiative 77, is passed, the tipped minimum wage would gradually be phased out until all DC workers have the same minimum wage by 2026. It’s a question that’s divided tipped workers and businesses alike.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a labor advocacy group that’s spearheading the campaign to do away with the tipped minimum wage, argues that reliance on tips can be too unpredictable for workers and force them to kowtow to the whims of customers. More than 100 restaurant owners, meanwhile, have banded together to oppose Initiative 77, asserting that soaring labor costs could hurt their already-fragile bottom lines and lead to higher prices for customers and possible layoffs.

Certain workers also fear that an increase in their base wage could affect how much customers opt to tip them or the proportion of their tips that restaurants and bars let them keep. “To tell me all of a sudden we need a change when we’ve been thriving is backward thinking, truly,” bartender Frank Mills told the Washington Post.

I talked to seven labor experts about whether increasing the tipped minimum wage benefits workers. Here’s what I learned.

In a strong economy like this one, workers have more to gain

Paula Voos, economics professor, Rutgers University

Especially in times like the present when unemployment is low and employers are often raising wages to attract workers anyway, I think the increase in the minimum wage is helpful to workers. I don’t think many will become unemployed by the change, and if they are, they will be able to find another job.

Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat, economics professor, Duke University

The most recent research suggests that tipped workers benefit from this change, experiencing increased take-home pay and little to no change in total employment. The restaurant industry does not appear to be harmed by increased minimum tipped wages, similar to findings for other low-wage industries. Research finds lower poverty rates, higher take-home pay, and unchanged employment after such changes, suggesting positive net effects on the broader economy.

Yannet Lathrop, policy analyst, National Employment Law Project

The National Employment Law Project is a workers’ rights group that has advocated in favor of raising the minimum wage.

If the experience of workers in the seven states without a tipped sub-minimum wage (also known as “One Fair Wage” states) is of any guidance, we should expect that phasing out the tipped sub-minimum wage in DC will help, rather than hurt, tipped workers in the District.

Tipped work is precarious by nature, the effects of which are exacerbated by the tipped sub-minimum wage. ... In jurisdictions like DC, where the tipped sub-minimum wage is much lower than the standard minimum wage, tips make up the bulk of tipped workers’ total earnings. Here, wage and hour fluctuations can leave tipped workers much more economically vulnerable.

In fact, analysis of data shows that tipped workers in states with a tip-credit experience poverty at twice the rate of non-tipped workers. In One Fair Wage states, tipped workers experience poverty at rates that are closer to those of non-tipped workers.

There is evidence that restaurants may change their staffing or tipping policies if wages go up — though not everyone agrees

Jacob Vigdor, public policy professor, University of Washington

As director of the Seattle minimum wage study, I’ve heard many in the restaurant industry worry that doing away with the tip credit would move owners to a “no-tipping” model where servers can no longer count on bringing home lots of money at the end of busy shifts. The evidence we’ve seen in the Seattle restaurant industry doesn’t show any decrease in pay. We do see some evidence, though, of hours being cut back in low-wage jobs. If you can keep your hours, and customers can still tip if they want to, then you’ll come out ahead. It all depends on what owners do about hours and what customers do about tipping.

As best we can tell, Seattle’s restaurant industry as a whole is doing well with a higher minimum wage. We do see evidence that they are cutting back on hours for low-paid workers.

So imagine a counter service restaurant where an employee brings your order to the table and busses the table for you when you are done. You might imagine the owner switching to a model where your name is called out when your order is ready and you bring it to the table, then you bus your own dishes when you’re done. That’s a way to serve you the same meal using fewer worker hours — you’re doing the work for free rather than an employee doing it for pay. It’s just one of many tweaks that business owners have told us about in adapting to a higher minimum wage.

Yannet Lathrop

A few workers have voiced concern that eliminating the tipped sub-minimum wage will mean no tips, or fewer tips. The former seems to be an incorrect interpretation of what Initiative 77 would do: It would phase out the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers but it would not eliminate tips.

Regarding the latter, there is no evidence that customers tip significantly less in One Fair Wage states than they do in tip-credit states. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not separate tips from base wages in their annual estimates, but 2017 data from the payment processing company Square suggests that restaurant customers throughout most of the country tip roughly the same: Between 15 percent and 17 percent. DC is one of three jurisdictions that tips the lowest, at 14 percent.

William Even, economics professor, Miami University

One might think that an increase in the tipped minimum would improve the earnings of tipped employees. If employers did not respond to the increase in the tipped minimum, this would be true.

However, in my earlier research with David MacPherson, we found that when the tipped minimum wage is increased, employers reduce the number of tipped workers they employ. As a result, some workers will benefit from the higher tipped minimum, but others will lose their jobs. Clearly, there are some winners and some losers.

The other important point is that employers might respond by changing the way their workers are compensated. For example, some restaurants have responded by raising prices to cover the higher tipped minimum wage and eliminating tipping altogether.

Here’s a story about some restaurants switching to a no-tipping policy, though it also describes how some have switched back because workers were unhappy without tips. Another possible response is to force workers to pool tips so that the employer can reallocate them across workers, though federal law does place limitations on which workers can be included in a tip pool.

Robert Cherry, economics professor, Brooklyn College

Increasing the minimum wage for tipped waitstaff is necessary since the federal level of $2.13 per hour is woefully inadequate. Most states peg it at 40 to 60 percent of the minimum wage, which is reasonable. The problem with the DC proposal is that it would eventually impact the tipped minimum at the full minimum wage. If this happened, many restaurants would probably go to a no-tipping pricing where the wait staff would become salaried.

The more modest increases in tipped minimum wages have not had an adverse impact but ... DC’s long-term making plan to make the tipped wage equal to the full minimum wage is risky.

Nina Banks

Census Bureau economist Maggie Jones found that increasing the minimum wage for servers enables restaurants to hire more workers. This larger supply can have the effect of lowering the overall tips available to each worker when the amount of tips per shift stays the same.

I would argue, however, that there should not be exemptions for any category of workers to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay at least the minimum wage. The largest category of exempt workers is tipped employees. Overall, minimum wages need to be raised so that they are livable, self-sufficiency wages that enable workers to live above the poverty level. Higher pay would benefit the economy through its stimulus effects on other businesses and provide increased tax revenue.

Getting rid of a two-tiered wage system could reduce inequality — and women are likely to be among the biggest benefactors

Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat

Given that tipped workers are disproportionately women and people of color, these policies may also reduce inequality. Moreover, given that being dependent on customers for subsistence makes tipped workers acutely vulnerable to discrimination and harassment, reducing the share of wages that comes from tips may also improve workplace climate and worker experiences.

Nina Banks, economics professor, Bucknell University

There are roughly 2 million workers with wages at or below the federal minimum wage. (They made up 2.7 percent of all hourly paid workers.) Raising the minimum wage for tipped workers would primarily benefit women for several reasons. Seventy percent of restaurant servers are women, and these women are disproportionately women of color.

Research by Sylvia Allegretto indicates that tipped workers are twice as likely to be below the poverty threshold as non-tipped workers are, so increasing their pay would help alleviate poverty. Additionally, reliance on tips for earnings exposes servers to sexual harassment from customers on whom they depend for tips. As a result, the restaurant industry has the highest rate of sexual harassment charges. Increasing the minimum wage, therefore, would help to protect servers against sexual harassment.

Paula Voos

Our economy has had rising inequality, and wages are not rising enough even as unemployment thaws for a variety of reasons. There’s an impetus on the part of workers and organizations that support them to alleviate that situation and provide people with higher incomes — to pay for rising costs.

source: vox

All 4 former first ladies have now condemned family separation

 
Former living presidents and first ladies pose for a photo at former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral.

“Horrific.” “Cruel.” “Disgraceful.”

All four living former first ladies have now condemned President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that has separated 2,000 children from their parents in six weeks’ time, calling the practice “horrific” and “traumatizing.”

The statements from Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama join a chorus of bipartisan condemnation of the family separations on the US-Mexico border — an unusual step given that former presidents and their families usually don’t criticize the current administration.

Here’s what they said:

Rosalynn Carter: “Disgraceful and a shame to our country”

Rosalynn Carter, the wife of former President Jimmy Carter, called family separation “disgraceful and a shame to our country” in a statement to ABC News.

“When I was first lady, I worked to call attention to the plight of refugees fleeing Cambodia for Thailand, I visited Thailand and witnessed firsthand the trauma of parents and children separated by circumstance beyond their control,” Carter said.

Hillary Clinton: “A moral and humanitarian crisis”

Former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used her time on the stage at the Women’s Forum of New York luncheon to denounce Trump’s “horrific” policy. She cited the images of children in cages and the Honduran woman who claims her child was taken from her while she was breastfeeding.

This is a moral and humanitarian crisis. Every one of us who’s ever been a parent or a grandparent, an aunt, a big sister, any one of us who’s ever held a child in our arms, every human being with a sense of compassion and decency, should be outraged.

Clinton rebutted Trump’s claims that separating families was legally required:

Separating families is not mandated by law at all. That is an outright lie. And it’s incumbent on all of us — journalists and citizens alike — to call it just that.

Clinton finished her impassioned speech with a jab at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and press secretary Sarah Sanders, who have called the matter of separating families a “biblical” duty:

Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenet of Christianity. ... Jesus said, “Suffer the little children unto me”; he did not say, “Let the children suffer.”

Laura Bush: “It breaks my heart”

Former first lady Laura Bush, the wife of former President George W. Bush, addressed her concerns in a letter to the Washington Post published June 17. Bush made clear that she felt Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, enforced by Sessions, was wrong:

“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel,” Bush explained. “It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

Bush continued:

Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the internment camps for U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. We also know that this treatment inflicts trauma; those who have been interned have been twice as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not interned.

Michelle Obama: “Truth transcends party”

Former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted an endorsement of Bush’s op-ed, saying “sometimes truth transcends party.”

What about Melania Trump?

First lady Melania Trump — who rarely speaks out on policy issues — made a vague statement on family separations, putting the onus on both Republicans and Democrats to eradicate the practice in a statement from her spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham.

Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump, who has often been the voice of the administration on children and family issues, has been silent.

source: vox

Republicans are starting to worry voters will punish them for family separations

 
Protestors in Los Angeles march against the separation of migrant children from their families.

Yet congressional Republicans still haven’t come together to fix the issue.

Some Republicans are starting to panic about how backlash to the Trump administration’s family separation practice will affect the midterms this fall — but Republicans in Congress haven’t come together behind a plan to stop it yet.

According to a Quinnipiac poll released on Monday, an overwhelming 66 percent of voters oppose family separations. At least 2,000 families have been separated in the past six weeks. Children are being kept in cages. Experts say the trauma from such a separation can have lifelong consequences.

Republican strategists are worried about what this might mean in November’s elections. One anonymous Republican operative told CNN that the issue has been “hitting home.” “Worst of all, it’s not just affecting border districts but suburban women as well,” the operative said.

Another Republican strategist told NBC News: “The media will broadcast these images of brutality and chaos and the public will associate them with the Republicans that run the House and the Senate — but most of all with President Trump.”

“Somehow I don’t think that putting kids in cages is likely to go over very well with suburban moms,” Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, said in a New York Times interview.

In a scathing editorial Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal sounded the alarm as well, urging the Trump administration to stop separating children and parents as it seeks to enforce a “zero-tolerance” policy, and emphasizing that its adherence to this practice is a shadow hanging over the midterms.

This is self-destructive politics. This year is the GOP’s best opportunity for immigration reform in a decade. If Republicans lose their House majority, they will have less leverage when the Supreme Court rules on legalization for Dreamers. If the Obama program is upheld, Mr. Trump won’t have obtained money for his border wall or anything else.

As for November, House control will be won or lost in swing districts where legalizing the Dreamers is popular and separating families isn’t. Members like California’s Steve Knight and Florida’s Carlos Curbelo need to show voters that they’re working toward a solution for Dreamers.

Congress could stop family separation

Trump has repeatedly tried to pass the buck to Congress on family separation even though it’s a policy that originated from a decision by his own administration:

Republicans, meanwhile, have emphasized that it’s well within the White House’s power to halt the separations. “President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, during an appearance on CNN. “I’ll go tell him. If you don’t like families’ being separated, you can tell DHS, ‘Stop doing it.’”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) called this “wicked” practice a “new, discretionary choice” by the administration.

They are among a growing group of Republicans voicing their disagreement. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona have pressed the administration to offer more information about the impact of this practice on asylum seekers, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has slammed the move as an “affront to the decency of the American people.”

Despite many Republican lawmakers’ stated concerns with Trump’s family separation policy, the GOP has yet to coalesce around a concrete congressional response that would address the issue. As Vox’s Tara Golshan reports, Republicans have claimed that a “compromise” immigration bill circulating in the House would end family separation at the border but it just keeps families and children in detention longer. (Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas have said they also have legislation in the works that would tackle this issue.)

Democrats, meanwhile, have floated a bill that would decisively bar family separations except in the cases of abuse and trafficking, a measure spearheaded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that now has the support of the entire Democratic caucus. As of yet, few Republicans have backed this legislation, a sign that while conservatives may be breaking with Trump on family separation, they’re still wary of fully articulating that opposition.

source: vox

Trump’s campaign manager says Trump should fire Jeff Sessions and end Mueller investigation

 
Brad Parscale.

Make Constitutional Crises Great Again.

President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager tweeted Tuesday that Trump should fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and “end the Mueller investigation.”

Brad Parscale — who was the digital director for Trump’s 2016 campaign and is in charge of the reelection bid — wrote that because of the recent inspector general report, Trump should “end it all.”

An attempt by the president to end the investigation into himself, his family members, and his associates for potential collusion with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election would throw the country into an enormous constitutional crisis, were it to happen.

It seems unlikely that Parscale would have floated this idea unless he believed it was something his boss, President Trump, would want him to do.

Indeed, Trump has been furious at Sessions since the A.G. recused himself from oversight of the Russia probe in March 2017, and has wanted him gone from the Justice Department since at least July 2017. (A new attorney general would not necessarily recuse himself or herself from oversight of the Mueller investigation, and could theoretically rein it in or shut it down completely.)

However, it is unclear whether this is a prelude to actual new action by Trump against Sessions. Trump has reportedly often encouraged his allies to harshly criticize Justice Department officials like Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller in the media — trying to weaken them in the court of public opinion, while refraining from actually firing them so far.

The inspector general report Parscale cites isn’t actually about the Russia investigation (or Jeff Sessions) at all. Instead, it focused on the Justice Department and FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case. However, the IG’s probe brought anti-Trump texts from two FBI officials who had formerly worked on the Russia probe to light. It also criticizes James Comey’s choices in the Clinton case, and Trump’s allies claim this vindicates Trump’s choice to fire Comey.

It’s a high-stakes moment for the Mueller probe. Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort was just recently thrown in jail to await trial. Trump has also been alarmed by a separate FBI investigation into his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, and there are rumors Cohen might try and cut a plea deal. Discussions over whether Trump will agree to be interviewed by Mueller’s team are still continuing, too.

Separately, Sessions is under fire for his role in the Trump administration’s separation of families at the border. But Trump has continued to defend his administration’s handling of the issue despite intense public criticism of over 2,000 children being separated from their parents in recent months. As Parscale freely admits, the real reason Trump would want Sessions gone is the Russia probe.

source: vox

The research on race that helps explain Trump’s use of family separation at the border

 

Ivanka Trump, children’s advocate, has nothing to say about family separation

 

Dissecting Roger Stone’s bizarre new statement on his meeting with a Russian national

 

He says it doesn’t matter why he didn’t disclose it for two years, and that he was set up.

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone is out with a blustery, deceptive, conspiratorial statement attempting to explain why he claims that, until just recently, he forgot he met with a Russian who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

It isn’t very convincing.

To recap: Stone and another Trump adviser, Michael Caputo, suddenly admitted to the Washington Post this weekend that Caputo set up a meeting between Stone and a Russian national calling himself “Henry Greenberg,” in May 2016 at a restaurant in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. Stone now claims that Greenberg asked him for $2 million in exchange for information about Hillary Clinton, and he didn’t agree to it.

Neither Stone nor Caputo mentioned this meeting during sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last year. And Stone has previously claimed that he never talked “to anybody who was identifiably Russian” in the relevant period. So this sudden disclosure is pretty suspicious, to put it mildly.

So Stone is now out with a lengthy statement, the point of which is to repeatedly assert without any evidence whatsoever that the meeting was a setup arranged by the FBI, and to claim Robert Mueller is trying to “frame” him.

“The question isn’t why I didn’t recall this – since the results of this contact are inconsequential and in no way improper or illegal. The question is why was the FBI seeking to set me up,” Stone brazenly claims.

Actually, one big question is still why Stone didn’t mention for nearly two years that he’d met with a Russian who by his own account asked him for $2 million for Hillary Clinton dirt — and only “remembered” it once Robert Mueller got texts proving that it happened. And Stone doesn’t even attempt to explain that.

Stone’s “FBI informant” claims aren’t supported by evidence

The closest Stone comes to giving an excuse for not disclosing the meeting is his evidence-free claim that it was a setup anyway — because, he says, the Russian was an FBI informant.

Now, the Washington Post reported this weekend that there is a 2015 court filing in which “Henry Greenberg” (under the name Henry Oknyansky) says that he’d previously been an FBI informant. However, he also says in that same filing that his FBI cooperation had concluded.

Stone cites this to repeatedly assert, with zero evidence, that “Comey’s FBI” was behind his meeting with Greenberg and the offer, because they wanted to “penetrate Trump’s circle and compromise him through me.”

Yet the timeline for this doesn’t line up with what we know of the FBI’s Russia investigation. The counterintelligence investigation was opened in July 2016, and Stone met Greenberg two months before that, in May.

Stone tries to confuse this a bit by saying the FBI tried to set him up “shortly after their outreach to John Popodolpous in April.” First, he means “George Papadopoulos,” but more importantly, if he is referring to FBI informant Stefan Halper’s contact with Papadopoulos, that occurred much later, in September.

The big picture, though, seems to be that Stone is trying to change the subject from why he didn’t disclose the meeting by piggybacking on right-wing media controversies like “Spygate,” and on the larger right-wing narrative that the Russia probe is a setup.

For good measure, Stone throws in the evidence-free assertion that he thinks Mueller’s investigators got ahold of his texts “through an illegal FISA warrant.” Yet if Mueller did get a warrant regarding Stone, it’s entirely possible it was a legal one. For instance, as Marcy Wheeler has pointed out, Mueller’s team disclosed in court that it got a warrant for five AT&T phones this March, shortly after Rick Gates became a cooperating witness, and around the time Mueller’s grand jury questioning began to focus intently on Stone.

In any case, Stone seems to be expecting to be indicted by Mueller — he says in his statement that “the Special Counsel seems determined to frame me for some bogus offense.” So far, we’ve mainly had Stone and Caputo’s version of events of what happened around this curious meeting, so perhaps Mueller will add more to the story at some point.

source: vox

Trump claims Germany’s crime rate went up by 10 percent. It went down by 10 percent.

 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Donald Trump don’t agree on refugees.

Trump is cherry-picking crime stats to paint a scary narrative around refugees.

President Donald Trump says Germany’s official crime statistics are wrong: Crime in Germany is up a whopping 10 percent since the country implemented its open-door policy toward refugees, he tweeted Tuesday.

To be clear, as Vox’s Matt Yglesias pointed out Monday, Germany’s overall crime rate has fallen to its lowest level since 1992, according to recently released statistics from the country’s interior minister.

So where did Trump get that 10 percent statistic?

The White House didn’t respond to a request for clarification, but our best guess is a German government-sponsored report from January that showed violent crime increased 10 percent between 2015 and 2016 in the German state of Lower Saxony. The study attributed 90 percent of the increase in violent crime to young male refugees. However, unlike Trump, who is using this statistic to argue against accepting refugees altogether, this study suggested language classes, sports, and job opportunities for these migrants. It also said these refugees should be reunited with their families.

This is the second time this week Trump has invoked crime in Germany as a way to sow fear around asylum seekers and refugees in the United States. On Monday, he said crime in Germany is “way up,” and berated Chancellor Angela Merkel for implementing an open-door policy for refugees. As his administration comes under intense scrutiny for implementing a policy that separates families at the border, Trump also said Monday that he would not allow the United States to become a “migrant camp” or “refugee holding facility,” like some of its European allies.

Needless to say, Trump’s comments don’t paint an accurate picture of refugees.

Trump is cherry-picking crime reports to paint a scary narrative around refugees

Put simply: Trump’s claim about Germany’s crime statistics aren’t accurate.

The study Trump is likely referring to is in the context of an increase in violent crime in Germany between 2014 and 2016. However, the most recent crime numbers, which Germany’s interior minister, Horst Seehofer, announced in January, show a nearly 10 percent drop in total crime over 2017. Violent crimes also modestly decreased, by 2.4 percent, between 2016 and 2017. The rate of violent crimes are still higher than they were in 2014, but they are not up by 10 percent “plus” as Trump said.

In other words, violent crime did increase in Germany during the initial influx of migrants, but that rate is now on the decline.

The study that found the 10 percent increase in violent crime in the German state of Lower Saxony noted something else: Migrants from war zones like Syria, who have stronger chances of getting asylum in Germany, were much less likely than other migrants to commit violent crimes. The study also said migrant crimes were more likely to be reported.

There’s no question that Europe is at a crossroads with the continued rush of refugees — a crisis that again made headlines this month when Italy’s interior minister turned away two rescue boats carrying 620 refugees, saying the country would no longer be “complicit in the business of illegal immigration.” Meanwhile, Germany’s Merkel is currently facing fierce political backlash from Germany’s anti-immigration right wing for settling almost a million refugees.

Trump’s policies have long echoed this far-right anti-refugee ideology. His administration has made a concerted effort to sow terror around refugees and asylum seekers, stoking fear that violent criminals may be trying to abuse the immigration system. On Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reaffirmed this worldview, saying the United States media doesn’t focus enough on the crimes perpetrated by asylum seekers.

“The narratives we don’t see are the narratives of the crime, of the opioids, of the smugglers, of who are people killed by gang members, of American children who are recruited and then when they lose the drugs they’re tased and beaten,” Nielsen told the press Monday.

It’s clear that’s the narrative Trump is focused on.

source: vox

Stephen Miller believes in controversy as political strategy, even if it means jailing children

 

But it’s starting to fail with conservatives.

To understand what the Trump administration is thinking about separating families and locking kids up at the border, you have to understand Stephen Miller’s foundational political belief: It’s better to stir controversy, at any price, than it is to engage constructively.

Architect of Donald Trump’s immigration policy and the White House’s resident troll, the 32-year-old White House senior policy adviser believes it’s good to “trigger the libs,” so to speak, with “the purpose of enlightenment.” To Miller, working constructively across the aisle isn’t as useful as “melting snowflakes.”

To Miller, there’s no reason to moderate a view or a policy, especially not when it comes to his deepest passion: immigration restrictionism. It’s subject he was passionate about even in high school and one over which he bonded with former boss, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, a longtime immigration hardliner. It’s no wonder, then, that Miller designed the initial version of Trump’s travel ban, barring people from several majority-Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days, and refugees for 120 days.

As Republicans are beginning to call the Trump policy of separating children and parents at the border utterly cruel, Miller’s response is a reminder that not only does he not care, the cruelty is by design. “No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” Miller said in an interview with the New York Times. Enforcing that policy was a “simple decision.”

The popularity of the family separation policy is plummeting, and conservative pundits and politicians are jumping ship en masse. Even Trump administration officials who supported the separation policy in early 2017 are now attempting to pretend such a policy doesn’t exist.

Miller’s strategy of “melting snowflakes” might be his most deeply held belief. But on family separation, it’s divided the right and pushed the left back into the activist square.

Conservatives pushing back on Trump — and Miller

My colleague Dara Lind has a terrific explainer on the family separation policy:

As a matter of policy, the US government is separating families who seek asylum in the US by crossing the border illegally. Dozens of parents are being split from their children each day — the children labeled “unaccompanied minors” and sent to government custody or foster care, the parents labeled criminals and sent to jail.

Per Lind’s research, between October 1, 2017, and May 31, 2018, at least 2,700 children have been split from their parents.

Family separation isn’t based on any law, and such policies may have had their origins in previous administrations — as Lind pointed out, the law addressing unaccompanied children was passed in 2008 and signed by President George W. Bush. But while Trump administration officials argue that they’re simply “doing their jobs,” videos released by Border Patrol of young children and women being kept in cages are causing an uproar across the country.

Some conservative personalities have attempted to provide cover for the administration, arguing that cages aren’t cages, for example.

But overall, Trump’s White House is receiving significant pushback from conservatives, including members of Congress with high profiles within the right, and even pastors on Trump’s evangelical advisory board. Former first lady Laura Bush wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for a “more moral” answer to the problem of illegal border crossings, while Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) told CNN that Trump could “stop this policy with a phone call,” adding, “If you don’t like families being separated, you can go tell DHS stop doing it.”

Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) called the policy “horrible,” adding this message to Trump: “This is not a right or left issue. This is right or wrong. This is what it takes to be the leader of the free world. This is what it takes to be the leader of a free country.”

In a Facebook post, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) wrote of the policy: “Family separation is wicked. It is harmful to kids and absolutely should NOT be the default U.S. policy. Americans are better than this.” And Sasse pointed out that while “some in the administration have decided that this cruel policy increases their legislative leverage … This is wrong. Americans do not take children hostage, period.”

It’s that final point that’s received significant pushback — that children are being used as leverage to force Democrats to agree to a border wall or another form of immigration restriction. (Per a White House leaker: “The thinking in the building is to force people to the table.”) Even former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly said that the Trump administration “will not win on this one.”

Cruelty as a feature, not a bug

The Trump administration hasn’t really tried to win the public conversation on family separations. As conservative write Ross Douthat pointed out on Twitter, the policy didn’t begin with a public discussion or explanation for separating young children from their parents, or by making the case to Congress for more family detention facilities. It started by taking kids from their parents first and attempting to assuage demands for legislation later.

That’s not a bug within the Trumpian system, it’s a feature of Stephen Miller’s approach. It’s also similar to the approach of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who agreed publicly with Miller in 2016 about the purported “massive problem” of immigration and who said Sunday on ABC’s This Week: “I don’t think you have to justify it.”

Miller’s reason for being in the White House and in politics is immigration restrictionism. When he joined the Trump campaign in 2015, conservative polemicist and immigration hardliner Ann Coulter tweeted, “I’m in heaven!”

And nothing has changed since 2015. As Miller told Breitbart in May, he believes the border with Mexico “is the fundamental political contrast and political debate that is unfolding right now.”

But Miller has no interest in convincing the opposition of the correctness of his views. Like he did in high school and in college at Duke University, he simply wants to enrage. As National Review columnist Dan McLaughlin told me, this follows his boss’ style of political discourse. “A hallmark of the Trump approach to politics is the assumption that politics is all about activating emotional reactions, not persuading anyone to change their mind.” In short, “triggering the libs.”

Trump is making hardline immigration a 2018 issue

Republicans are trying to win the 2018 midterms. For members of Congress, that includes motivating the base, but it’s also about winning over moderates and independents, too.

The Trump-Miller approach plays well with Breitbart readers and immigration restrictionists. But it’s not turning out to be hugely popular among Republicans. The first Quinnipiac poll on children being separated from their parents at the border, voters oppose it 66-27. And though Republicans support it, 55-35, that’s incredibly low in comparison to Republican support for, say, Trump himself.

And counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway distanced herself from the policy, telling Meet the Press that “nobody likes this policy.”

It’s no wonder, then, that faced with such opposition, members of the Administration not named Stephen Miller have resorted to arguing that the family separation policy isn’t a real policy at all (before saying a day later that children taken away from their families by that “nonexistent” policy were being well-treated.)

But despite the linguistic gymnastics, the fundamental policy remains unchanged, as does the political strategy. The outrage and hoopla around the cruelty of the policy is the whole point. Even if the strategy backfires in the fall midterms, Miller’s game — drive the outrage, refuse to retreat — will remain the same.

source: vox

Ted Cruz says he’s going to introduce “emergency” legislation to stop family separation

 

Immigration lawyers aren’t so sure it’s the right solution.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced Monday evening that he was introducing emergency legislation to immediately end the practice of family separation and speed up the review of asylum cases in an attempt to stem the tide of fury aimed at Republicans and the Trump administration.

“All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers. This must stop,” Cruz said in a statement.

This represents a reversal from just a few days ago, when Cruz defended the policy to a local Texas news outlet: “As a U.S. citizen, if you commit a crime and get arrested, you’re separated from your kids. And if you’re the only caregiver, your children have to find alternative caregivers — whether family members, friends or foster care. What all the media attention on separation of families is really saying, is don’t incarcerate those who come here illegally.”

Cruz is taking a step Republicans may be coming around to: The Trump administration policy’s of family separation is attracting horrific press — especially in border states like Texas. Notably, Cruz is facing a strong Democratic challenger this fall in Beto O’Rourke, who has been running as a champion of immigrant communities in the state.

HotAir.com’s Allahpundit wrote that introducing the bill could be a function of “electoral terror, plain and simple.”

What Cruz’s bill aims to do on family separation

Set to be introduced by Cruz in the Senate this week, the Protect Kids and Parents Act would aim to do the following:

Double the number of federal immigration judges, from roughly 375 to 750.

Authorize new temporary shelters, with accommodations to keep families together.

Mandate that illegal immigrant families be kept together, absent aggravated criminal conduct or threat of harm to the children.

Provide for expedited processing and review of asylum cases, so that — within 14 days — those who meet the legal standards will be granted asylum, and those who do not will be immediately returned to their home countries.

But the 14-day asylum claim deadline received immediate pushback.

Asylum cases are complicated: Testimony has to be collected from often traumatized asylum seekers; documents may have to be sent from other countries to back up their claims; reports about the conditions in their home countries have to be put together. It’s impossible to do all of this in 14 days — the average asylum case takes about 50 hours of a single lawyer’s time, and lawyers are always working on multiple cases at once.

Furthermore, when families are being kept in immigration detention, it’s hard for them to even get access to lawyers — when the Obama administration tried to fast-track processing and deportation of asylum-seeking families in 2014, there was one pro bono lawyer for every 120 detainees. The result, according to one of the lawyers who talked to Vox’s Dara Lind, was a “shitshow.”

Even conservative writer and contributor to the Federalist Gabriel Malor pointed out this was unrealistic.

Even if Cruz’s bill did get attention in Congress — which is unclear, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not said whether the Senate will take up the bill and the House is set to vote on a set of largely unrelated immigration issues this week — the White House has stated that it will not consider supporting standalone legislation on family separation. Instead, the White House says it wants Congress to “fix the whole thing.”

But the family separation issue is taking up political oxygen, and congressional Republicans might be emboldened to go against Trump. If Cruz’s bill could get a veto-proof majority of support in the Senate, that would render the White House’s position moot (though that seems unlikely).

Democrats have united behind the Keep Families Together Act

Meanwhile, Democrats have united behind their own bill to end family separation.

On Monday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin became the 49th Democrat to support California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill to end the practice of separating children from their parents unless they are being abused or trafficked, or a court decides it’s in the child’s best interest. In a statement on the legislation, Manchin said, “As a father, grandfather, and Christian, I am wholeheartedly opposed to any policy that allows innocent children to be separated from their parents as they enter our country.”

Though Manchin has attempted to stay close to Trump due to the president’s overwhelming popularity in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia, the senator’s willingness to join his Democratic colleagues is indicative of the family separation policy’s overwhelming unpopularity with Democrats, independents, and even a plurality of Republicans.

According to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, 66 percent of voters — including 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents — told Quinnipiac they opposed the policy.

source: vox

The controversy over paying the full minimum wage to restaurant servers, explained

 
Rose’s Luxury in Washington, DC.

DC’s Initiative 77 ballot measure has led to a lot of hype and drama.

The nation’s capital has turned into the latest battleground in the fight over restaurant tips.

Voters in Washington, DC, head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to approve Initiative 77, a ballot measure that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and phases out the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers, which is currently $3.33.

Initiative 77 is easily the most controversial measure on DC’s primary race ballot, placing the city at the forefront of a national feud over workers’ tips. Voters in the city have been subjected to months of loud, clashing messages over the alleged impact of eliminating a lower minimum wage for tipped workers.

On one hand, the restaurant industry warns that the initiative, if passed, will force businesses to close and slash jobs. On the other hand, labor rights groups say it will lift thousands of families out of poverty without harming the economy. Meanwhile, servers, bartenders, and consumers have been divided — and confused — about what would really happen.

It’s not hard to see why. There’s not much research on the impact of eliminating the tipped minimum wage, and only a handful of old examples to study. Only two other places — Maine and Flagstaff, Arizona — have recently abolished the practice, but lawmakers in Maine then reversed the measure before it went into effect.

Under federal law, businesses can pay certain workers less than the $7.25 federal minimum wage if those workers make most of their money in tips. This has traditionally included restaurant servers, bartenders, valets, and bellhops. Under federal law, they can pay these workers the tipped minimum wage — $2.13 an hour. If the worker doesn’t earn enough tips to make the full minimum wage, the employer has to make up the difference.

Under this system, the customer essentially subsidizes workers’ wages with gratuities. Some states require businesses to pay a higher sub-minimum wage to tipped workers than the federal one. Seven states banned the practice decades ago, or never allowed a lower tipped wage at all (California never did). New York and Michigan are now considering a similar ban.

Workers’ rights groups have zeroed in on the tipped minimum wage as one culprit in America’s growing income inequality. Job growth in the restaurant industry has outpaced other sectors of the economy and is expected to continue expanding. The District of Columbia is now poised to become the first major player in this modern economic experiment.

Most restaurant servers in the city barely make minimum wage

When someone eats out at a restaurant in the nation’s capital, the tip they leave behind is not just a show of appreciation — it actually pays most of the workers’ minimum wage. The restaurant owner only has to pay servers $3.33 an hour under the city’s labor laws. At the end of each week, if the tips don’t add up to the local minimum wage of $12.50 an hour, then the restaurant owner has to make up the difference. Initiative 77 will gradually hike the tipped minimum wage by $1.50 each year until it reaches $15 in 2025. By 2026, the minimum wage will be the same for all workers.

Despite the city’s thriving high-end dining scene, the median hourly wage for servers in the city is barely above the minimum wage, including tips. Tipped workers in the city are twice as likely to live in poverty and use food stamps as the rest of the city’s workforce.

Seven states — Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington — eliminated the two-tier system entirely decades ago, or never allowed the practice to start with. The Restaurant Opportunities Center, the nonprofit labor group pushing for equal wages for restaurant workers across the United States, points out that the poverty rate among tipped workers in those states is far lower than the poverty rate for tipped workers in other states. Employers pay the full minimum wage to the 1.2 million tipped workers who live in those states.

And they still earn some tips. Data about tipping rates is scarce, but one analysis of tips left on credit cards shows that customers in states without a lower tipped minimum wage still leave gratuities. Alaska had one of the highest average tipping rates (17 percent); California and Oregon had among the lowest. But even the states that ranked toward the bottom had at least a 15 percent tipping rate.

And not having a separate tipped minimum wage hasn’t seemed to hurt the restaurant industry in those states. The National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit labor policy group, has also weighed in. “The restaurant industry is strong in the seven states with no tipped minimum wage, demonstrating that it is economically feasible to phase out the tipped minimum wage without harming restaurant jobs or sales,” the group wrote in a 2016 report supporting Initiative 77.

The best comparison to the situation in DC would have been Maine, where voters approved a ballot measure in November 2016 that would have phased out the tipped minimum wage by 2024. But months after passage, restaurant workers and bartenders said patrons were confused and tipping them less, even though the law hadn’t yet gone into effect. Their voices, plus fierce opposition from the National Restaurant Association, led lawmakers to reverse the ballot measure in July 2017. The tipped minimum wage in the state is currently $5 an hour.

Despite the lack of evidence to support the rosy outlook — or doomsday scenarios — pushed by various groups in the District of Columbia, the research that does exist gives an indication of what could happen when restaurants have to start paying workers themselves: Most of the workers will probably earn more, and customers will pay most of that cost.

Menu prices will go up, and most workers will probably earn more

Economists may not have studied the impact of abolishing the tipped minimum, but they have seen what happens when a state raises the tipped minimum wage.

The effects vary. One 2016 research paper from Maggie Jones, an economist at the US Census Bureau, analyzed W-2 data and concluded that when tipped minimum wages rise, employers pay a higher percentage of their workers’ hourly wages, but the workers’ tips decrease by just as much.

A 2015 paper by economists at Cornell University said that modest hikes in the tipped minimum wage do not lead to fewer jobs. “Even when restaurants have raised prices in response to wage increases, those price increases do not appear to have decreased demand or profitability enough to sizably or reliably decrease either the number of restaurant establishments or the number of their employees,” they wrote.

A 2014 paper by economists at Florida State University and the University of Miami Ohio found a strong link between higher tipped wages and higher overall earnings for restaurant workers, but also a drop in the number of restaurant jobs. They concluded that every 10 percent increase in the tipped wage increased a worker’s earnings by less than 1 percent, while reducing employment in full-service restaurants by less than 1 percent.

More recently, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University, in partnership with the Restaurant Opportunities Center, studied the impact of New York’s minimum wage increase for tipped workers in 2015, the year it went into effect. Restaurant workers in New York saw their average salaries go up 6 percent that year, a larger increase than in neighboring states that didn’t increase wages.

Limited though it may be, this research suggests that Initiative 77 probably won’t destroy the city’s economy or force most restaurants to close, or do that much to pull low-wage workers out of poverty. Most of the city’s servers and bartenders will likely see a modest boost to their average income, and restaurants will probably eliminate some jobs. The change will definitely cost restaurants more money, and they will probably pass on most of that cost to consumers.

Congress has always treated tipped workers differently

The push to eliminate the tipped minimum wage highlights how America has historically treated tipped workers differently than the rest of the US labor force.

Congress didn’t include protections for them when it passed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the 40-hour workweek and a federal minimum wage. The law was amended in 1966 to include tipped workers, but they were still not considered the same.

Most importantly, the amendment created a sub-minimum wage for tipped workers: 50 percent of the federal minimum. Employers could count a worker’s tips toward the other 50 percent needed to make sure they earned minimum wage. This is known as a “tip credit.” On days when workers don’t make enough tips to earn the federal minimum wage, employers must pay the difference. The sub-minimum wage marked a major change to tipping culture in America, essentially turning customer gratuities into wage subsidies.

In 1996, Congress made another significant change. It set the minimum wage for tipped workers at $2.13 an hour, instead of calculating it as a percentage (half) of the federal minimum wage (at the time, the full minimum wage was $4.26). The move was viewed as a concession to the National Restaurant Association and House Republicans who didn’t want to hike the minimum wage.

Since then, Congress has raised the federal minimum wage — but not the minimum for tipped workers. That means that over the years, tips have become a larger share of workers’ incomes. Some states have raised the sub-minimum wage, but 18 states have done neither.

There hasn’t been much action at the federal level. Democrats in Congress introduced a bill in 2017 that would have raised the federal minimum wage and phased out the tipped minimum wage, but it didn’t get enough support. In 2014, the Obama administration suggested that it was time for the federal government to do away with the two-tiered system.

“The rules for tipped workers are complicated and can be confusing for employers and employees alike. One of the most prevalent violations is the failure to keep track of employee tips and therefore the failure to ‘top up’ employees if their tips fall short of the full minimum wage,” according to a report from Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

The system places too much trust in employers to make sure their workers are earning enough in tips to meet the federal minimum wage:

In practice, however, this provision is difficult to enforce. When surveyed, more than 1 in 10 workers in predominantly tipped occupations report hourly wages below the full federal minimum wage, including tips. (By comparison, just 4 percent of all workers report hourly wages below the minimum wage.) Raising the full minimum wage without also raising the tipped minimum wage could exacerbate noncompliance; the greater the difference between the tipped minimum wage and the full minimum wage, the more likely it is that tipped workers will not earn enough in tips to earn the difference.

The best case for raising the tipped minimum wage is to prevent wage theft. That’s largely because a lower wage for a certain group of employees creates a bookkeeping hassle. Employers are supposed to keep track of all the tips their employees earn each week to make sure they are paid at least the minimum wage. It’s easy to track tips on credits cards, but not cash tips that servers may pocket. Workers’ rights group says this leads many servers to earn less than minimum wage during slow shifts, and the Labor Department has limited resources to make sure managers are making up the difference.

The restaurant industry is the top offender of wage theft, according to data from the Department of Labor. In 2017, the agency reported 5,446 cases against the restaurant industry, leading to $42.9 million in back wages for 44,363. That’s twice the number of workers owed money than in the construction industry, which is the second worst offender.

The number of these cases continue to rise. The number of restaurant workers owed money in 2017 was more than double what it was in 2005.

Forcing all businesses to pay the same minimum wage would be one of the easiest solutions to bring down those numbers.

source: vox

New statistics: the government is separating 60 children a day from parents at the border

 

The Democratic Senate bill that would stop family separations, explained

 

It has the support of all Democrats and no Republicans.

There is currently just one bill in the US Senate that would stop the Trump administration policy of family separation. The Keep Families Together Act now has the support of every single Senate Democrat, but no Republicans have yet signed on.

The bill was introduced a couple weeks ago by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein’s bill would outlaw family separations except in very specific cases — when there’s reason to believe a child is being trafficked or abused by its parents.

“Congress has a moral obligation to take a stand and say that families should not be forcibly separated,” Feinstein said in a statement. “To traumatize them further is unconscionable, and I hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to put an end to this immoral policy.”

There is unanimous agreement among the Senate Democratic caucus to support the bill. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia became the last Democrat to sign on to the bill on Monday, saying that while he supports increased security and even a wall on the southern border, “no law requires pulling children from the arms of their parents.”

But it’s looking unlikely that Senate Republicans will join; instead, Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn say they will be introducing their own legislation to address the issue. Many Republicans in Congress say they don’t agree with the Trump administration’s policy of family separations but no Republican senators have signed on to Feinstein’s bill.

What is the “Keep Families Together Act”?

The legislation, introduced on June 8, would ban the separation of families at the border unless there is evidence that a child is being trafficked or abused by their parents. Feinstein’s bill puts a number of measures in place to ensure abuse is occurring before children are taken away from their families.

Specifically, the bill would allow separation if a state court terminated an undocumented parent’s parental rights or an official from a state or county child welfare agency decided it was in the best interest of the child to be removed.

In other words, the bill pushes back on the Trump administration’s argument that by simply crossing the border, undocumented parents are breaking the law and therefore must face the consequences of having their children taken away. Feinstein’s bill would make this happen only if there’s evidence the child is in direct danger by staying with the parents.

Beyond having the support of all of Feinstein’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate, the “Keep Families Together Act” also has the support of a number of medical and immigrant advocacy organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids In Need of Defense, Children’s Law Center, and the Women’s Refugee Commission.

What the bill doesn’t have is support from Republicans — which it would need in order to pass the Senate.

There’s no indication that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will entertain the notion of bringing the bill to the floor, especially since two of his Republican colleagues have floated the idea of proposing their own bills to halt family separation.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said he plans to unveil legislation that would keep families together while undocumented children wait for their status hearing, which Cornyn says should be expedited.

“I think we all can agree that it’s a terrible outcome to see the children separated from their parents,” Cornyn said at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.

It’s expected that Cornyn will amend a previous piece of legislation he authored, the Humane Act, which would expedite the hearings of undocumented children. Sen. Ted Cruz, also from Texas, has also announced his intention to file a bill. But Cruz’s bill would theoretically keep families together, it would also deport them faster. The bill would increase the number of immigration judges to hear these cases, but also deport anyone whose asylum claim is denied within 14 days.

source: vox

75 former US attorneys to Jeff Sessions: family separation makes the US less safe

 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions answers questions during a press conference at the Department of Justice.

The US attorneys join a long list of officials and public figures who have condemned the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

A bipartisan group of 75 former US attorneys is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to halt the separation of families on the US-Mexico border, writing that separating children from their parents “ultimately render[s] us less safe as a nation.”

“Like a majority of Americans, we are appalled that your Zero Tolerance policy has resulted in the unnecessary trauma and suffering of innocent children,” the group wrote. “But as former United States Attorneys, we also emphasize that the Zero Tolerance policy is a radical departure from previous Justice Department policy, and that it is dangerous, expensive, and inconsistent with the values of the institution in which we served.”

The letter went on:

Collectively, as former United States Attorneys, we have prosecuted tens of thousands of cases involving far more serious crimes than misdemeanor illegal entry offenses. And even in those far more serious cases, decisions involving the separation of children from their parents were made with extraordinary caution, and only after an evaluation of the specific circumstances of a particular case. Today, by contrast, your Zero Tolerance policy has produced a tragic and unsustainable result, without taking into account each family’s specific circumstances.

A growing number of citizens, public figures, members of Congress, former and current first ladies, and 600 members of the United Methodist Church — which counts Sessions as a member — have condemned the Trump administration’s policy.

In just six weeks, about 2,000 migrant children were separated from their families at the border and placed in government custody. These figures reflect only those children taken from the middle of May to the end of June, leaving open to question how many families have been separated in the following weeks.

Family separation is a consequence of prosecuting every case of illegal entry

The former US attorneys are criticizing the policy that’s at the root of the family separations at the border: the Trump administration’s decision that all adults crossing into the US illegally should be criminally prosecuted.

As Vox’s Dara Lind explained:

To be clear, there is no official Trump policy stating that every family entering the US without papers has to be separated. What there is is a policy that all adults caught crossing into the US illegally are supposed to be criminally prosecuted — and when that happens to a parent, separation is inevitable.

Typically, people apprehended crossing into the US are held in immigration detention and sent before an immigration judge to see if they will be deported as unauthorized immigrants.

But migrants who’ve been referred for criminal prosecution get sent to a federal jail and brought before a federal judge a few weeks later to see if they’ll get prison time. That’s where the separation happens — because you can’t be kept with your children in federal jail.

This is the policy the attorneys general are criticizing, arguing that it’s not only inhumane but also a poor use of federal resources. Time spent prosecuting illegal entry in federal court, they argue, is time that can’t be spent on other, more serious crimes, including “a terrorist plot, a child human trafficking organization, an international drug cartel or a corrupt public official firearms cases, violent crime cases, financial fraud cases, and cases involving public safety on Indian reservations.”

source: vox

P-Square’s Paul Blasts Nigerians for Criticising Super Eagles After Croatia Defeat

 

International award winning Nigerian musician, Paul Nonso twin brother of Peter of P-Square took to his Facebook account to blast Nigerian fans for calling Super Eagles players all sort of names after they lost their openi g Russia 2018 World Cup match against Croatia.

Paul posted, “Nigeria lost to Croatia and all hell breaks loose but star players in Argentina could not beat Iceland, Germany could not beat Mexico, even almighty Brazil couldn’t even beat Switzerland.”

“Nigerians would curse and abuse their players cause we lost to Croatia. We Nigerians are the problem of this country, yes, nobody wants to be defeated but we should be encouraging the players and not abusing and cursing them all over social media” Paul.

Paul ended his post with “a typical Nigerian cannot even encourage you not to give up if you failed once.”

The Nigerian team has a chance to redeem its soccer image and revive hope of Nigerians on the team to reach at least, the knock out stage of Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Nigeria plays Iceland in their next match. Recall, Iceland held tournament favorite Argentina to a deserved 1 all draw during the group D opening match which have Croatia and Nigeria.

(NTA)

Trump’s separation of families at the border: a visual explainer

 

Trump is finalizing one of his big proposals to undercut the ACA

 

Association health plans, explained.

The Trump administration is releasing rules that would make it easier for small businesses and self-employed individuals to buy insurance that does not comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations, another front in the White House’s attempts to undermine the law.

Association health plans, the subject of the new rules, do not have to follow the same rules as individual policies sold under Obamacare, meaning they are not required to cover all of the essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act, like maternity care, an important piece of the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Trump had asked federal agencies last fall to look for ways to expand the use of association health plans — groups of small businesses that pool together to buy health insurance — and to broaden the definition of short-term insurance, which is also exempted from the Affordable Care Act’s rules.

Overall, the Trump administration is expected to make cheaper plans with skimpier benefits more available — and while that may be a better deal for healthy people who do not receive federal assistance, experts worry the push toward these plans will damage the ACA’s marketplaces. Costs could rise for federal taxpayers who must cover the higher costs for subsidized customers, and higher-income people who nevertheless need more comprehensive insurance could be forced to choose between paying more for the more expensive Obamacare plans or buying skimpier coverage that might not cover what they need.

“The president still firmly believes that Congress must act to repeal and replace Obamacare, but before that can be done, this administration must act to provide relief,” Andrew Bremberg, who oversees domestic policy at the White House, told reporters last year. “We expect these policy changes to potentially benefit tens of millions of Americans over time.”

During an impromptu end-of-the-year interview with the New York Times, Trump touted the expansion of these association health plans and the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in the Republican tax bill as his big wins against the health care law in 2017.

“We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people,” he told the Times. “That’s gonna be a big bill, you watch. It could be as high as 50 percent of the people. You watch. So that’s a big thing.”

The president was surely overstating the impact of his executive order. But policy experts warn that together, these changes could represent a serious threat to Obamacare: Trump wants to open more loopholes for more people to buy insurance outside the health care law’s markets, which experts anticipate would destabilize the market for customers who are left behind with higher premiums and fewer insurers.

Association health plans are exempted from core Obamacare requirements like the coverage of certain essential health benefits. The final rules also allow some individuals to join these plans too, the Wall Street Journal reported, which could hurt the individual insurance marketplaces by drawing younger and healthier people away from them. In much the same way, short-term insurance could also take healthier people out of the law’s markets.

The effect won’t be immediate and its extent is unclear. Some actuaries expect short-term insurance plans and the repeal of the individual mandate to damage the Obamacare markets more than association health plans. But Trump and the GOP’s actions collectively do present a long-term risk to the ACA.

“The clear intent of the executive order is to create a parallel insurance market exempt from many of the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act,” Larry Levitt at the Kaiser Family Foundation told me last year. “This has the potential to siphon off healthy people with skinnier benefits and cheaper premiums, leaving behind a sicker pool of people under ACA plans.”

Association health plans, explained

An association health plan, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff has previously explained, is a way for a group of small businesses to pool together to buy insurance, giving them more purchasing power and access to cheaper premiums. A group of bakeries, for example, might form a bakers association and purchase health coverage together. The most famous examples have been farm bureaus, which allowed independent farming businesses to band together and get insurance.

Before Obamacare, national associations could pick and choose which states’ insurance rules they wanted to follow and use those rules to guide the plans they offered nationwide. The bakers association could choose to follow the rules for, say, the Alabama insurance market, which mandates coverage of relatively few benefits, for all its bakeries in New York, a state with many mandates.

The result was often health insurance that skirted state rules and was a better deal for businesses with young and healthy employees, who are likely to prefer skimpier health plans. A former insurance regulator described the situation prior to the ACA to Kliff as being “a race to the bottom, with some associations offering lower-cost plans that covered virtually nothing.”

Obamacare changed these rules. Association health plans were treated as small businesses and were therefore required to cover all of the law’s mandated benefits.

Essential health benefits, requiring that insurers cover everything from hospital care to prescription drugs to maternity care, are central to the ACA’s insurance protections: They prevent plans from crafting their coverage to attract mostly young and healthy customers at the expense of older and sicker people.

Why Trump’s executive order undercuts Obamacare

Trump is rolling back those changes. Under the executive order, new regulations are expanding the use of association health plans, easing federal rules that require associations be from the same state and that prevent associations from forming exclusively to provide health coverage.

The result could in many cases be that these new association health plans would be considered large employers when it comes to health insurance. Large employers are not subject to the same rules as individual or small-group plans under Obamacare. Most notably, they do not have to cover all of the law’s essential health benefits or meet the requirement that insurance cover a minimal percentage of a person’s medical bills.

Association health plans will be freed to craft skimpier (and cheaper) health plans that appeal only to businesses with younger and healthier employees. Small businesses left in Obamacare’s marketplace would likely face higher costs and fewer options as the market became less attractive to insurers.

“It will destroy the small-group market,” Tim Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who generally supports Obamacare, told me before the order was signed. “We’ll be back to where we were before the Affordable Care Act.”

The final regulations expanded access to association health plans beyond small businesses, too, by allowing self-employed individuals with a shared interest (industry or geography, for example) to join these groups.

The individuals likely to flee the Obamacare markets for association plans would probably be younger and healthier, leaving behind an older, sicker pool for the remaining ACA market. That has the makings of a death spiral, with ever-increasing premiums and insurers deciding to leave the market altogether.

“The ability for individuals to purchase health insurance through an association really puts the individual market at risk and destabilizes it over the long term,” Kevin Lucia, who studies the market at Georgetown University, told me before the order had been signed. “When you have market segmentation, it over time leads to higher premiums and it becomes less attractive to carriers.”


Join the conversation

Are you an Obamacare enrollee interested in what happens next? Join our Facebook community for conversation and updates.

source: vox